Friday, October 17, 2014

Francois Roffiaen

The Banks of the Konigsee (Upper Bavaria)
oil on cardboard
other detail unknown

Francois Roffiaen (1820-1898) was a Belgian painter, engraver, etcher of landscapes and mountain scenery in the Realist and Romantic style. He specialised in painting Alpine landscapes.

He followed his artistic studies at the Academy of Brussels, 1839-1842. Then, he taught drawing at the college of Dinant. Since the beginning of the year 1840, he participated in big group exhibitions. The years 1850?1860 were those of his greatest success, including numerous sales in Belgium, in Great Britain and in the United States, having works acquired by the Shah of Persia, by the Belgian and British royal houses.

His painting, constructed according to indefinitely repeated formulae and each year becoming a little more tired, finished however by wearying the art chroniclers. Critics of the press have often reproached him for the bias he shows in his painting. But he ignored them, and he continued to accumulate landscapes of Belgium, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, using the same formula, making do with the same sky, the same trees, the same rocks, unconcerned by the latitudes, according to the taste of a special public, who buy all of that and pay him handsomely. However, on several occasions a critic attempted to emphasize the qualities of his art, both in its extreme delicacy and fineesse and in its almost photographic detail.

Some months after his death, the local authorities gave the name of Francois Roffiaen to a street in Ixelles. In 1907, an article was dedicated to him in the Biographie nationale, edited by the Royal Academy of Belgium. However, in the first half of the twentieth century his name was no longer cited except by chance. Notwithstanding that, since the years 1960-70, there has been a renewal of interest and the work of him is on the way to becoming rehabilitated.